Investing

Powerball and Mega Millions Lottery Jackpots Nearing Record $1 Billion (Updated Higher)

History is in the making for the world of lotteries, at least in the United States. Nearly $1 billion is now up for grabs for lottery players. Powerball’s drawing for Saturday has a jackpot estimated at a whopping $700 million. UPDATE: As of Friday morning that is now $800 million! The Mega Millions lottery drawing for Friday is currently estimated to have a $165 million jackpot. That is a whopping $965 million combined, and it is now almost mathematically certain that these lotteries will go well above $1 billion if they do not produce winners. This is actually unheard of in the United States, even if there have been four other lottery jackpots over $500 million.

Headline numbers can be a bit misleading. The reality of course is that these are the annuity values of the lottery jackpots. The cash payouts would be $496 million as of now for the Powerball drawing and the cash option is roughly $100 million for the Mega Millions drawing.

What is driving these numbers higher is that there just have not been any winners. Wednesday’s Powerball drawing had no jackpot winners, so that drawing with a $800 million face value drawing will be on Saturday night, January 9, 2016. The Mega Millions drawing will be on Friday night, January 8, 2016.

What lottery players need to understand is that both of these jackpots are not just life-changing events. They are an opportunity to create dynasties with multi-generational wealth. Sadly, that comes with dark side, because many lottery winners end up broke within a few short years.

24/7 Wall St. has evaluated the behavior of many lottery winners. This led to something that should be obvious but is apparently overlooked by many lottery winners. That is, 12 things not to do if you win the lottery!

Imagine winning tens of millions of dollars (or hundreds of millions) and then ending up in the poor house. This could lead to being the brunt of the joke at every family event for generations to come.


There are many considerations for lottery winners. There is what to do or not do on taking the upfront cash or the annuity value, and there are the tax consequences. Then there is how to set up a budget and a financial plan (yes, lottery players better have those in place). And there are the rules you need to live your life by, like how to shield yourself from scam artists, from friends and family members, and even from yourself.

Given all the research on lottery winners and losers, it is surprising how few warnings are out there for the winners. Maybe people need to be reminded of what they should not do rather than just being told what to do. After all, how many rich people like being dictated to? The reality is that this newfound empire-building wealth will not make a lottery winner the smartest person in the room.

Lottery winners can also become marked targets and make instant enemies. There have been at least two murders tied to lottery winners. Spending $30 million in 30 days in the 1980s “Brewster’s Millions” movie might have been difficult, but you can blow through that in days (or even hours) in today’s world.

This is lottery history in the making. Still, lottery winners better not forget about 12 things not to do!

Before you wonder about the lottery chances of it hitting $1 billion, this is possible but the large number of tickets being bought makes this harder to expect. Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko said:

We are into uncharted territory with this historic jackpot, so please don’t wait to buy your ticket. Some have  suggested that it could reach $1 billion if it rolls  again — but considering how many tickets are being sold for Saturday, the  chances of another jackpot roll seem slim.

Closing out, NPR has now featured parts of this 12 Things Not To Do for its All Things Considered radio show.